Kitsap’s workforce ranges from former navy personnel eager to stay in the area, ex-Seattle/Redmond IT professionals looking for more livable surroundings, or graduates of our local colleges and technology training centers ready to use their talents in manufacturing or skilled labor.
Kitsap County offers employers and employees a number of work and lifestyle advantages that helps attract – and keep – a top-notch workforce. At the top of the list: short, nearly congestion-free commute times; affordable cost of living; family-friendly communities; offices and homes that overlook stunning Pacific Northwest scenery; and numerous cultural and recreational opportunities.
What makes Kitsap work:
- A skilled labor pool generated by the Department of Defense enlisted and civilian employees and government contractors
- Highest concentration per capita of architects and engineers in Washington*
- Intellectual Property – ranks second in Puget Sound in patent awards
- Over 500 miles of high-speed fiber (via Kitsap Public Utility District) to support virtual commuting and e-commerce
- Access to customized training and acclaimed workforce development programs
- Advanced manufacturing, IT, business, healthcare, and industrial trades programs
- Resident baccalaureate degrees in business, engineering, nursing, cybersecurity, environmental policy, and MBA programs in sustainability
Two new factors influencing Kitsap’s workforce are the rise of remote workers and “fast ferry” service. The pandemic of 2020 delivered a crash course in remote work and many have found that being tied to a downtown office is unnecessary for productive work. Former commuters are choosing a different lifestyle and finding it in Kitsap. State-of-the-art coworking spaces, connected to NoaNet the nation’s largest public fiber-optic backbone make remote work a reality – opening up a world of new possibilities for new partnerships, opportunities and enterprise.
For those still commuting the new fast ferry routes make connections to Seattle a breeze. The ease of transportation has brought an influx of former Seattleites drawn to Kitsap’s more affordable housing market, quality schools and family-friendly communities.
About 55 percent of all economic activity of Kitsap County is directly or indirectly linked to the personnel and procurements at Naval Base Kitsap which employs over 31,000 military and civilian personnel, in addition to defense contractor operations. This sector creates an experienced labor pool of skilled and semi-skilled workers from retired/separated shipyard workers, military members and contractors.
Total impacts of the major bases in Kitsap include employment of 35,642 including 11,220 military personnel, 19,922 civilian personnel and 7,500 defense contractors and an additional 15,000 retirees on the payroll, and labor earnings of $2.1 billion.
Many of the 3,000 young men and women discharged each year choose to stay in the area and are eager to enter the civilian workforce. They are highly skilled with the knowledge, training and work ethic employers desire and the added security clearances some employers require. Many retiring Navy personnel have already purchased homes in the area and have become active members of the community.
Our large commute-out work force — estimated at 30% of the employed labor force — can readily be tapped by growing businesses. Many commuters to the East side welcome opportunities closer to home. About 10% of employed labor commutes into Kitsap, primarily from Pierce, Mason and Jefferson Counties. In addition, retiring military offer a wide range of skill sets to employers in our area.
See Kitsap Economic Profile